The number of women farming in the United States continues to climb, even as the number of farms has been relatively stable in recent years. Nevertheless, women often face an uphill battle in asserting themselves as farmers, particularly if they are living and working in communities in which masculinities and femininities have been shaped over time by the gendered symbolic categories of farmer and farm wife. In light of the discursive power of the title of farmer this article examines women’s pathways into farming to ask: 1) To what extent do women encounter difficulties in being legible as farmers, and how do they manage these difficulties?; and 2) How do women farmers reshape rural femininity in being recognized as farmers? Drawing on interviews and ethnographic data from 12 Wisconsin women farmers, this article shows that many women farming sustainably and conventionally faced considerable obstacles at the institutional, interactional, and symbolic levels of the gender system as they attempted to be recognized as farmers; managing these difficulties through persistence. Some women contested the gender regime of farming by constructing an alternative rural femininity through insisting on the title of farmer, drawing on the symbolism of hegemonic rural femininity and masculinity in the process.

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